1. Home
  2. News

Heat Waves and Pollution Trigger a Perfect Storm for Heart Attack Deaths, Reveals Study

A recent study published in the journal of the American Heart Association (AHA) says that population segments face a twofold increase in the risk of heart attack mortality.

Vivek Singh
Heart Attack (Image Courtesy: Unsplash)
Heart Attack (Image Courtesy: Unsplash)

A recent study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), reveals that specific population segments face a twofold increase in the risk of heart attack mortality when exposed to heat waves and high levels of fine particulate pollution. The study examined data from more than 202,000 heart attacks that took place in Jiangsu, China, between 2015 and 2020.

A study published in the journal Circulation by the American Heart Association (AHA) indicates that extreme temperatures and high levels of fine particulate matter air pollution are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiac events. The research focused on the Chinese province of Jiangsu due to its varying temperature ranges and pollution levels. To identify heat waves, the researchers used the daily heat index, which considers both heat and humidity.

The study's findings revealed that during four-day heat waves with fine particulate pollution exceeding 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter, the risk of death from cardiac events doubled. The risk was especially pronounced among women and older adults. Among those who died from heart attacks, the average age of death was 77.6 years, with more than half being older than 80 years.

In summary, the study highlights that extreme weather conditions and elevated fine particulate pollution levels pose a significant risk to vulnerable groups, leading to a higher likelihood of death from heart-related issues, particularly during heat waves in the province of Jiangsu, China.

According to Dr Yuewei Liu, an associate professor of epidemiology at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, there is a growing concern about the increasing frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme temperature events and their negative impacts on health. Additionally, the worldwide presence of fine particulate matter in the air is another environmental issue of concern.

These two factors, extreme temperatures and fine particulate pollution may have a synergistic effect on cardiovascular health, but it is still uncertain how their co-exposure might lead to a higher risk of death from heart attacks. Heart attacks are acute responses and a significant global public health challenge due to their substantial disease burden.

A ‘Perfect Storm’

Dr Alexander Postalian, a cardiologist at The Texas Heart Institute, concurs with the study's results, stating that extreme heat not only increases the chances of heat-related health issues but also exerts additional stress on the cardiovascular system, leading to increased workload on the heart.

Staying Safe in Extreme Conditions

The study researchers proposed strategies to decrease the risk of heart attack-related deaths. Their recommendations included avoiding extreme temperatures by staying informed about weather conditions, staying indoors during extreme heat, and using cooling devices. To reduce exposure to fine particulate pollution, they suggested using air purifiers, wearing masks outdoors, avoiding busy highways, and opting for less strenuous outdoor activities.

Take this quiz on World Meteorological Day to check your knowledge about meteorology! Take a quiz
Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters